tv The Situation Room CNN September 17, 2013 2:00pm-3:31pm PDT
back in the washington, d.c. bureau of cnn. wolf? jake, thanks very much. happening now, we have extraordinary new details about the gunman who killed 12 people at the washington navy yard. police, family and friends, they are painting a picture of a deeply troubled individual who heard voices, felt vibrations, before he apparently snapped. we also are getting new information right now about the weapon. authorities say alexis walked into the navy yard with a shotgun. we are going to tell you where and how he managed to buy that weapon. and a city known for its tough gun laws is now in mourning. amid deep anger over apparent security lapses. i'll speak live in the coming minutes with the washington, d.c. mayor, vincent gray. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. you're in "the situation room."
a day after gunfire and sirens echoed in the nation's capital, mourning has begun for the 12 people shot dead at the washington navy yard. today, we finally learned the identities of all of them. we are learning so much more about the man who authorities say walked into the navy yard with a shotgun and quickly began a bloody rampage. that's raising serious questions about security at u.s. military facilities and prompting an urgent review. cnn's brian todd is joining us now. he's been at the scene all day. he's getting new information. what are you learning? >> reporter: wolf, new information tonight about the shooter's emotional problems and about his arrest record, about the misconduct he was cited for in the navy, and how apparently none of it was picked up by the people who gave him his security clearance. based on family accounts, a source with knowledge of the investigation says aaron alexis had trouble sleeping in recent years, was hearing voices in his head. law enforcement sources say he made contact with two v.a.
hospitals for psychological issues. a defense department official says alexis had eight instances of misconduct in the navy before his honorable discharge in 2011. police records say he had three arrests between 2004 and 2010, one for disorderly conduct, two for gun-related offenses, including an incident when he fired two shots into the tires of a construction worker's car in seattle. >> an arrest for gun violations should have disqualified him. >> reporter: disqualified him from getting a secret security clearance, according to sheldon cohen, an attorney who specializes in that. cohen and other attorneys say a private firm does background checks on civilian contractors for the government's office of personnel management. opm checks the information, cohen says, then passes it to the defense department. there's one office in d.o.d. that then determines whether someone gets the kind of security clearance alexis had. cohen says somewhere in those three layers, someone dropped the ball. should all of this cumulatively or at least a little piece of it
been flagged and been a reason for him not to get that clearance? >> from my experience, he absolutely should not have gotten a clearance. anybody that i have encountered with any kind of, even half of this record, does not get a clearance. >> reporter: we reached out to that pentagon office, the office of personnel management, and a private firm we believe could have done alexis' background check. none of them have commented on alexis's case. investigators, meanwhile, say they're still trying to piece together a motive for why alexis would have shot and killed 12 people at the navy yard. a friend says he had one dispute with the navy over a contracting job in japan late last year. >> he got back and he felt very slighted about his benefits at the time. financial issues, he wasn't getting paid on time, he wasn't getting paid what he was supposed to be getting paid. >> reporter: the ceo of the private contracting firm that alexis worked for says no one at any of his recent contracting
jobs had any problems with him, or at least didn't report those problems if they had any. >> the pentagon is about to begin a worldwide investigation into this whole process. what are we learning on that front? >> reporter: we are learning from our barbara starr that from a senior pentagon official that defense secretary chuck hagel intends to order a full and comprehensive review of the physical security and the clearance process at all of the defense department installations worldwide. that announcement should be coming soon. >> i'll be speaking later here in "the situation room" with the chief spokesman for the u.s. navy. we have lots of questions for him. he will join us live in "the situation room." thanks very much. the shooting victims were honored today in a very solemn ceremony at the u.s. navy memorial. the defense secretary chuck hagel joined general martin dempsey. they laid a wreath next to the lone sailor statue. a bugler then played "taps."
the senate observed a moment of silence. flags will fly at half staff across the country through friday. beyond the serial disciplinary issues that led to his naval reserve discharge, friends and family members of gunman aaron alexis make it clear he was deeply, deeply troubled. we will hear shortly about his past behavior. cnn national correspondent deborah feyerick has new information about a disturbing incident that occurred, what, just last month. what are you learning? >> reporter: yeah, it happened about six weeks ago. two key pieces of information that we have been able to develop. first, just over six weeks ago, a naval base in newport, rhode island, was contacted by local police who warned them that one of their contractors, aaron alexis, was behaving strangely. second, at the same time in august, alexis reached out to a v.a. facility also in rhode island, at the very same time. newport lieutenant william fitzgerald tells us that on august 7th, alexis called police to his hotel. he had actually switched hotels three times.
alexis explained that while traveling from virginia to rhode island, he had gotten into a verbal altercation with a man during his flight. he believed that the man had sent three people to talk to him, keeping him awake, and sending vibrations through his body. alexis told police he had not seen the people but he believed that there were two men and a woman, and that they were quote, using a microwave machine to send vibrations through the ceiling, penetrating his body so he could not sleep, unquote. he told police that he never felt anything like this. he felt the individuals would harm him. he would not tell police specifically what these people who allegedly were harassing him were saying, but he did tell police that he had no history of mental illness in his family, he had never had a mental episode. newport police notified the naval station at 8:30, that's just about two hours after this incident happened, to tell them what had happened, and notify them of the possible implications given alexis' access to the base, and that he was working there as a
contractor. newport naval had no comment, they referred us to the fbi in d.c. fbi also not commenting, but a big question as to whether someone at a navy base knew there was a problem with one of their contractors. wolf? >> seems like there was blunder after blunder. we will speak to the chief spokesman for the u.s. navy, got lots of questions for rear admiral john kirby. he will join us live later in "the situation room." thanks very much, deb. the bloody rampage at the navy yard is raising serious questions about security. now as first reported by cnn's barbara starr, the pentagon is confirming that defense secretary chuck hagel is ordering this review of physical security and access at all u.s. military installations worldwide. meanwhile, we're also learning about the mass shooting and the gun battle after aaron alexis entered the navy yard. let's bring in our justice reporter, evan perez, had has been doing excellent reporting. you are learning about what exactly happened in that encounter. >> that's right, wolf.
shortly after 8:00, when this all went down at the washington navy yard, about seven minutes after the shooting begins, the washington police, metropolitan police department and other departments, rushed to the scene and within seven minutes, they had begun shooting. there is now a gun battle that starts inside building 197, which is where the victims were shot and killed. the police end up engaging in a running gun battle, essentially, with the suspect, with alexis. he's up on the fourth floor, he's shooting down at the victims, and they start shooting at him as they are going through the building. lasts for about more than 30 minutes according to the police department, and so it takes about all together, probably about 40 minutes for this entire episode to go down. >> he was there with a shotgun, that apparently he purchased legally in virginia. did he have any other weapons as far as we know? >> we know that he purchased a remington 870, a tactical
shotgun, it's called. it's fairly well concealable, according to the officials we've spoken to. it's not a very long gun so it's possible some people might have not noticed him. he also is known to have had at least one hand gun that he took from a guard who he shot early in the exchange at building 197. >> we heard from the fbi agent in charge of this investigation, she said there's no indication at least that we know of that he did in fact have this ar-15 assault weapon. >> that's right. that was some of the early information yesterday. the authorities were circulating some of that information internally and we all learned about it, it's now known that perhaps people saw as you know, there were some early witness reports that said there were multiple shooters so apparently some of that information got out incorrectly, as you said. as you know, he's been around in washington for a couple weeks now, so authorities today are trying to piece together where
he's been in the last three weeks in washington. >> staying at various hotels with people, sometimes by himself. i'm sure they are going through every step of the way. thanks very much, evan perez, for that good reporting. just ahead, we will hear from friends of the gunman, aaron alexis, who say he gave no indication he was about to set out on a bloody killing spree. and the washington, d.c. mayor, vincent gray, he is here in "the situation room," walking in right now. i will ask him what he knows about these bloody events. we will speak to you in just a moment.
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we're learning a lot more about the gunman who carried out a bloody rampage at the washington navy yard, but details are only now beginning to emerge about what happened inside that complex in the tense hours after the assault, the washington, d.c. mayor vincent gray delivered a series of updates to the american public. now the mayor is here in "the situation room." mayor first of all, our deepest
condolences. this is a shock to all of us who live in this area. i know it's been a serious shock to you as well. >> it has, wolf. it's just an incredible situation. in fact, i took some time this afternoon to call every one of the families that i could reach -- >> of the 12 people who were killed. >> exactly. >> how did those conversations go? >> they were tough. they were really tough. the first person i talked to was the wife of the one resident who lived in the district of columbia. >> the other 11 lived either in virginia or maryland. >> that's right. this was arthur daniels who lived in the district of columbia and his wife was absolutely devastated. she talked about their children, she talked about, you know, where they lived, she talked about they had been married for 30 years. >> what do you say the a family like this? what can you say? >> you really can't say anything that's going to make a huge difference in a situation like this. i typically start out by saying i just wanted to call and reach out to you myself. i said i know there's nothing i can say that can change this or
make it different but i wanted you to know that i care about this, i care about you and i want you to know that i'm here to do anything i possibly can to be able to help you. >> if they ask you to come over, you would of course go over there and pay a visit. >> of course. >> and see how they're doing. >> i would. >> and help as much as the district of columbia can do. i know there are certain things you can't share with us but maybe you can share some of the details. do we know how this aaron alexis actually wound up dead? >> yeah. it was a shootout. >> how did that -- walk us through how that happened because we understand the shootout lasted, what, half an hour? >> right. >> tell us how that went down. >> well, chief lanier talked about it already and she knows the details much better than i do, but he was inside and he was shooting people. he was able to get ahold of a gun of one of the law enforcement officials. >> he came in with a shotgun, got a hand gun from one of the law enforcement? >> that's right. >> he had two weapons he was using? >> he had two weapons and was
shooting people down in the atrium, just picking people off. >> he was on the fourth floor looking down at what was it, a food court, like a little balcony and he was just sniping at people? >> yeah. that's essentially -- i wasn't there, of course, but that's essentially the account we've had of how this happened. there were people who were eating breakfast because it was early. they hadn't even started their shift yet. >> was he saying anything? did anyone hear him talking? or was he just methodically pointing his weapon and shooting people? >> he may have been. i've had no indication, though, from anybody i've talked to that there was any dialogue or any monologue from him. that he just was shooting people. >> were d.c. police the ones that eventually got him? >> yeah. in fact, we had an officer who was shot, officer scott williams, who absolutely did a phenomenal job. he's part of our canine corps. been on the force for 24, 25 years. he was shot in the legs, had
surgery last night. i was up at the hospital center along with chief lanier last night, and after surgery, it was unbelievable how good his spirits were, how positive he was about what he did and how proud he was to be able to defend the city. >> is he going to be okay? >> he's going to be fine. we don't know fully, you know, the surgery, we think, was very successful and of course, the healing process now is under way. but if his spirits last night were any indication, he's going to be fine. >> did the d.c. police get there as quickly as they should have gotten there? >> absolutely. >> in terms of post-mortems, after-action reviews, are you satisfied with what you've heard as of now? >> our first responders were absolutely phenomenal. the police arrived within eight minutes of this incident starting. and then we had more police, you know, we had the shooting teams that work with us, they went in -- >> your s.w.a.t. teams? >> exactly. very much like s.w.a.t. teams.
>> but the d.c. police were really in charge of this effort to apprehend this guy. >> that's exactly right. >> even though it's a military base, you went on there. >> that's right. we went on there. it's still our city and we were the first responders in this instance. of course, the investigation now has been turned over to the leadership of the fbi. they have taken over. but for the first 24 hours, it was us, it was the park police that was involved, and of course, our fire and emergency medical services which did a phenomenal job, getting people who were hurt. there were eight people, actually nine people who had to be transported. one of the people who died was actually dead on arrival. >> at george washington hospital. >> that's right. he was transported. we transported nine people out of there really in a quick fashion. so our emergency medical services people and the fire chief and the firefighters did a phenomenal job. >> walk us through how he managed to get on this secure
navy yard facility. did he sneak in, did he have access? we heard he had some sort of pass. it was all above board. there must have been a security failure some place along the line. >> he had the credentials to get in. he was working with a contractor that had a contract at the navy yard. he was able to show credentials that were perfectly valid. >> with a shotgun, he could walk in? >> it's unclear -- >> how does he go on to a navy base, the navy yard, with a shotgun? >> it's unclear yet exactly how that happened. that's still information that's being developed. but we'll find out. >> did he walk on to the base or did he drive on to the base? >> he had a car. >> so the shotgun may have been in the trunk. you don't open the trunk when you drive in, if you have the credentials. >> that's right. it may have been concealed in the car. but then there's still the question how you get into the building. and there's questions about whether his credentials even though they were valid for the base, were valid for building 197, which is the building he
went into. >> you're the mayor of washington, d.c. which has very strict gun control laws. but if you cross the potomac river into virginia as this man did, you go to lorton, virginia, which is not that far away, you can buy a shotgun, then come back into washington, d.c. >> which is exactly what he did. you know, we have some of the strictest gun control laws in america. you've got to have background checks. we don't permit assault weapons. we don't do any of that. but we are vulnerable to what goes on in the surrounding states. that's why we need national policies on this. it's fine for the district of columbia to do this but if virginia has a different set of policies or maryland has a different set of policies, what good does it do us because people will go right across the border and come right back into our jurisdiction. >> doesn't look like much is going to be done as far as federal tightening of the laws, even after nine months ago, after what happened in connecticut, newtown, connecticut. the president has not been able to get new stricter background
checks. >> that's right. i thought we would at least have background checks. we've gotten nothing. people have to step back from this and ask what are they willing to tolerate when you see a massacre, a rampage like this take place. you know, again, you have to ask why is it that our legislators at the national level are not stepping up and saying enough is enough. how many of these incidents have to happen before people say i'm not taking it anymore. >> what's the most -- we're out of time but what's the most important lesson that you have immediately learned from what happened yesterday? >> well, i think the lesson for us is that even though this is a military base, which we know has been phenomenally secure over the years, it's the oldest, 200 years old, that still people -- this man was able to circumvent the security procedures that were in place and we've got to look at these contractors. how did he get these credentials in the first place and how did he get past what should have been required of someone with a record like his. >> yeah. we're investigating it but it is amazing, the guy has eight
instances of misconduct in the navy and he gets an honorable discharge. not a general discharge. not a dishonorable. he gets an honorable discharge and because in part of that honorable discharge, he then parlays that, goes on and gets a job with top secret security clearances working for a defense contractor. >> i would say you shake your head, but it's far more serious than head shaking. we've got to have, i'm glad that the secretary of defense is now having a worldwide top to bottom review of our security procedures, because when you get a breach like this, it means we're doing something wrong. >> you've conveyed that concern to the authorities, the navy -- >> absolutely. >> you've had conversations with them? what do you want them to do? >> i want them first of all to review the procedures as they've talked about, and then let's do background checks. let's do thorough background checks. >> background checks, what's intriguing to me, this guy has a background check, he's a contractor, wants a job as a contractor, but another contractor does the background -- the initial stage
of the background. they outsource the background check to outside contractors. i think that doesn't sound right to me. i don't know about you. >> doesn't sound right to me. these are the kinds of things that should be done by people who are working for the federal government, working for the military. there are certain things that should be treasured in a way that they are not released from the hands of the government. >> you get a background check, the first phase, if he gets a clear background, he goes to the next, okay, must be fine. then you go to the third phase, okay, gets the background check and obviously we have to learn lessons from what happened to make sure it doesn't happen again. >> that's right. it's shameful that it took this maybe to bring this issue to bear in the way it's being brought to bear. >> you know what's nice, washington, d.c. is coming through right now and the pride and the outpouring of support for the victims and their families is really helping. >> again, i'm very proud of what our people did, this government did, to stand up and address this heinous situation as
quickly and effectively as it did. but what would be even more satisfying is that we never have to do this again. >> we know for sure there were no others involved. this was a lone gunman. >> yeah. we had initially reported the possibility of two additional suspects. fairly quickly we were able to eliminate one. it was a man who was seen running away but he was running away because someone near him got shot and he was running away from the possibility of himself being shot. then there was a second suspect who was described, but we have never been able to identify this person. so we have abandoned the possibility of other suspects. >> mayor vincent gray, thanks very much for coming in. good luck to all of the residents of the district. >> thank you. coming up, we are learning other details about the weapon, including where aaron alexis bought it. we are going live to virginia, where it was sold. play close. good and close.
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a day after a bloody rampage took the lives of 12 innocent people, we're learning much more now about the navy yard gunman, aaron alexis. eight cases of misconduct. let me repeat that. eight cases of misconduct in the u.s. naval reserve led to a discharge, family members, police telling us of other incidents as well in which clearly, very troubled man heard voices, complained of people out to get him with microwave vibrations. let's bring in cnn's ed lavandera. ed, what are you learning?
>> reporter: it's interesting that the details that are emerging about the mental issues that aaron alexis has been struggling with in recent months seems to fly right into the face of what all his friends here in ft. worth saw up close. >> it's like dr. jekyll, mr. hyde. who was this guy? >> reporter: melinda downes spoke to aaron a week ago, saying there were no hints his friend was on the brink of launching a violent killing spree. >> you ask yourself, you go from denial to reality to fear to blame. is there something i could have done. is there something i could have saw, is there some type of behavior that i ignored or didn't see that i could have prevented this. but there is no answers.
>> reporter: but there are clues that aaron alexis started unraveling mentally in recent months. according to newport, rhode island police, alexis called officers to his hotel room there in august. alexis told police that three individuals talking to him through a wall were sent to quote, harass him. he told police the harassers were using a microwave machine to send vibrations through the ceiling, penetrating his body so he could not speak. but alexis' friends in texas say they never saw this side of him. >> i can honestly tell you aaron was not hearing voices. there was no mental illness in him other than if you want to say that the post-traumatic stress disorder was mental. he was very intellectual. his mind was sound. he could hold a conversation with the best of us, and he was not hearing voices. and if he did, he hid it very well.
so that's -- i never had anything -- [ inaudible ] >> never paranoid. never. >> reporter: another friend says he did show signs of paranoia. aaron alexis' life in texas revolved around the happy bowl thai restaurant in ft. worth. his long-time roommate and the restaurant's owner says alexis often acted paranoid. he says the navy yard killer carried a hand gun, because he always thought someone was trying to hurt him. they met at a buddhist temple. he says alexis was a peaceful soul. >> very concerned about human people, human life, any kind of life. >> reporter: peaceful? >> yeah. peaceful people. all the time he was with me, he never showed sign of angry or aggressive or, you know, anything.
>> reporter: it's interesting, we spent yesterday speaking with several friends asking about if aaron alexis ever talked about any family members. it was melinda downs who actually shed some light, the first light we have, on his family situation. we asked if he ever talked about his parents or siblings. according to melinda downs, aaron alexis had a very good relationship with his mother, loved her very much and with his sister and a newborn child, a niece that his sister had. but she goes on to describe that he had a very tough relationship with his father. apparently there was quite a bit of tension there and according to melinda downs, that was perhaps one of the reasons why he had joined the navy. the navy reserves, to try to show his dad that he was an upstanding man and could impress him in that way. so interesting insight from a friend here in ft. worth. >> i'm sure we will be learning a lot more about this guy as well. ed, thank you. coming up, we are also getting in new details on where and how alexis managed to buy
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hours before he walked on the base at the navy yard. on sunday, the day before that shooting, he came right here to the sharpshooters gun shop and target range here in lorton, virginia, a suburb of washington, d.c. we have confirmed now through the shop's owners that he came in and that he took target practice. he used one of the guns, one of the rifles, that the store owns and their ammunition, and he took target practice with that rifle. and then when he was done, he purchased a shotgun. it was a remington 870 express tactical model, a 12 gauge shotgun. he also bought two boxes of ammunition, about 24 shells total. while he was here, he waited as the store ran the national criminal background check. it's an instant background check that's done on site. they ran it, he didn't have any sort of convictions that would prevent him from getting that gun, so he was able to purchase it, take it with him and we're also told now that the fbi has
been here and they took the video of aaron alexis inside the store that day. wolf? >> chris lawrence in lorton, virginia for us over at that gun store. thank you. here's what else is coming up later today on cnn. >> cnn tonight. at 8:00 on "anderson cooper 360" the shooting rampage at the navy yard in washington, d.c. anderson cooper is there live with the latest on the investigation. and at 9:00 on "piers morgan live" a test of faith for the man known as america's pastor. piers talks exclusively with rick warren and his wife, their first interview since their son's suicide. and about what he did when he heard about the navy yard shootings in washington. >> the first thing i did is get down on my knees and pray for those families. >> it's all on cnn tonight, starting with "outfront" at 7:00, "ac 360" at 8:00, and "piers morgan live" at 9:00 tonight on cnn. >> this programming note, anderson will also speak with
the widower of one of the victims. just ahead, in the wake of the navy yard rampage, lawmakers are asking tough new questions about security at u.s. defense installations and the background checks on defense contractors. and a cnn exclusive. he's given spiritual advice to millions. now the pastor rick warren talks with cnn's piers morgan about his personal tragedy, the suicide of his son. we went out and asked people a simple question: how old is the oldest person you've known? we gave people a sticker and had them show us. we learned a lot of us have known someone who's lived well into their 90s. and that's a great thing. but even though we're living longer, one thing that hasn't changed much is the official retirement age. ♪ the question is how do you make sure you have the money you need to enjoy all of these years. ♪
joining us now, our chief political analyst, gloria borger, our chief congressional correspondent, dana bash. the scrutiny of these outsourced contractors doing sensitive work, i assume that's going to have to escalate big-time, right? >> it will escalate. i spoke with senator susan collins about this last night. she said it really makes me question the kind of vetting that military contractors do. here's the problem, wolf. we have both done a bunch of reporting on this today. there were a lot of red flags for alexis, but for some reason, they weren't noticed. for example, he wasn't charged with reckless gun use, although he was arrested for it. and he was honorably discharged from the navy, although there was a back story to it. so in talking to people today, they were saying well, on a regular vet for him at this kind of midlevel position, they might not have known about these things. >> just this afternoon, capitol hill got the inspector general
report on this very issue and it was absolutely incredible to read, how many holes there really are in security clearance specifically for these contractors at the naval facility. just really quickly, nine out of ten of these navy installations allowed temporary access to people like alexis for 28 days before any background check was finished. they could walk around these facilities for 28 days just by filling out the application. >> outrageous. i don't understand why they also allow the initial round of background checks to be outsourced to private contractors who are checking the background capabilities of other outside contractors. >> i spoke with somebody who runs a trade association for contractors who says that doesn't always occur, for example, the cia always does its background checks. its own background checks. and the forms are identical but the question is would somebody in the government do a different kind of check than a contractor would do. you know, this is a large, large
problem. 14% of the federal budget is now spent on these private contractors so it's not a small issue here. you can be sure that they are going to be looking at this. >> any prospects this will do anything to move further gun control legislation through the senate and the house? >> in a word right now, no. the senate majority leader harry reid said today he will do it once he has the votes. they're still five votes short of extending background checks. the question also is whether or not they would just do something very limited on helping the mentally ill and so that was also no, why, because they concluded from newtown that strategically they thought that would give leverage for getting more gun control so they want to marry the two, they don't want to give it up and it doesn't look like this will move the ball at all, particularly since it looks like he did have a background check. >> if they didn't do it after newtown -- >> not going to do it now. thanks very much. a vigil was held today for the victims last night. we now know the names of all 12
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get back to the navy yard shooting investigation in just a few moments, but there's another story i want to go to. the suicide of a child certainly takes on an added dimension when you're one of the best known pastors in the united states. now pastor rick warren is speaking up with brutal honesty. he spoke with piers morgan. this is amazing stuff that you've done. just briefly remind our viewers what happened to pastor barren's
son. >> well matthew was in his late 20s. he suffered a leave time of depression and mental illness. he received all sorts of treatment, but nothing worked. and there was a slow but steady escalation in his despair and deresponsible densy and his attempt to take his life. he took overdoses and was unsuccessful. and theres with a really poignant moment in the middle of what was a heart breaking interview. and i talked to kay warren, rick's wife, the moment that her son told her a month before he died, that he'd bought a gun over the internet illegally. he said to her, if you tell anybody i've got this gun, if you tell the police and they show up, i will shoot myself immediately. so she was trapped in the ultimate mother's nightmare of not being able to tell anybody, not being able to tell the police said he would kill himself, but aware that he would
almost certainly try to kill himself anyway. and sure enough, that's what he did a month later. the warrens, they a're such positive, god-fathearing peopleo have devoted their lives to helping other people. and they get hit with this gut-wrenching tragedy themselves. it was very, very hard not to get emotional with them. as anybody who watches it will see, it is really raw and really emotional. >> let me play a little clip for our viewers right now. >> it's not supposed to end like this. because we had had close calls. matthew had made attempts on his hive before, in other ways. and we just kept, you know, when matthew was born, even as a young child, he struggled with
mental illness. so we knew that this day might happen some day, but it's a day no parent wants. it's your worst nightmare. and i'll never fer get, i'll never forget the agony of that moment. >> this is really an amazing interview. and i want to alert our viewers, the full hour tonight on your program. i think our viewers are going to want to see this. and thank you so much for doing it. and i know we're going to learn a lot of lessons from this horrible, horrible tragedy. >> what i would say, although it's heart breaking, the reason people should watch it, it's very inspiring and they've kbt a clear message about how you deal with mental illness in this country, it can't be more pertinent with regard to what happened yesterday.
i think everyone should watch it and try to work out collectively how we can try to deal with these dual problems that are facing american society at this time. >> thanks for doing this. and please pass along our best wishes and deepest condolences to the warrens as well. piers morgan later tonight. just ahead, cnn investigations. we investigate into the security at u.s. military facilities worldwide as a result of what happened in washington yesterday. sfx: birds chirping sfx: birds chirping
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fifteen percent or more on car insurance. sfx: oil gushing out of pipe. sfx: birds chirping. the prancercise lady is going a little bit nuts right now, specifically pistachios. >> reporter: when prancercise meets dennis rodman, what do they have in common? it turns out both are now pitching pistachios. >> the secret to world peace is
pistachios. >> dennis rodman does it because he's nuts. >> reporter: dennis rodman and johanna rohr back. >> prancercise lady does it to stay fit. >> reporter: how many takes did it take? >> between 100 and 200. >> reporter: wow. the prancercise lady says she and pistachios are a good fit because she is a health nut and besides. >> it tastes very well. >> reporter: johannjohanna's li changed with her video went viral. >> oh, god, 00y, it's a buckin' bronco. >> reporter: she was spoofed. she was imitated.
not long after prancercise, another dance routine went viral. cafe owners across the street recorded ellie cole without her knowledge waiting for a bus in england. she was dubbed the dancing queen at the bus stop. the abba song is what she was listening to. she's asked to join a chorus line at a prestigious theater. these two managed to. >> get crackin'. >> reporter: jeanne moos, cnn, new york. happening now, the navy
gunman, sopsychological problem and we have new information about the man behind the massacre. i'll ask the navy's chief spokesman what needs to be changed. and tributes to the 12 victims. we now know all their names, many of their story, including the pilot, the animal lover, and the mother of a new bride. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in the situation room. the washington d.c. police chief says aaron alexis walked into the navy yard determined to kill as many people as possible. and now the question is why. we're learning more about the 34 year old it contractor, the former navy reservist including
his apparent history of deep psychological problems. we got an update from authorities just a little while ago on yesterday's rampage that left 12 people dead and alexis dead himself. what are you learning? >> reporter: there were a lot of neon signs that were missed. and here's another one. aaron alexis, the shooter, went to a firearm practice range the day before the shootingen an even practiced and bought a shotgun, legally. all the more reason to wonder why no one was able to connect the dots. the first of what likely will be many remembrances for the victims killed in the navy yard rampage, secretary chuck hagel laying a wreath and a moment of silence at the baseball stadium just a few blocks away from the crime scene. as the city of washington starts on the long road back to
normalcy, dramatic new details are emerging of the attack that left 12 victims dead, including a fuller description of the gun battles between the gunnen in and active shooter teams. >> literally two minutes after the call was dispatched we had officers at the gates, pay riving on the scene. within seven minutes had officers at the building, entering the building to engage in active shooter as shots was shots were actively being shots. we had officers who heroically went into a building, witnessing multiple casualties and continued to pursue and engage a gunman who was determined to kill as many people as possible. >> reporter: a picture is also emerging of the troubled last weeks of the shooter, aaron alexis, a man who friends say cycled between outgoing, friendly and pleasant on one day to dark and troubled, hearing voices on the next.
he said three people were following him, sending vibrations through his body. on august 25th, authorities say he arrived in the washington area. and on september 7th, he checked into a residence inn in southwest dc where he was apparently staying up until the shooting on the 16th. >> at this time we believe mr. alexis entered building 197 at the navy yard with a shotgun. we do not have any information at this time that he had an ar-15 in his possession. we also believe mr. alexis may have gained access to a handgun once inside the facility and after he began shooting. >> reporter: leaving many questions unanswered about his state of mind, his access and his motives. a government employee staying at that hotel last week says she spoke with aaron alexis three
times, twice on tuesday, once on wednesday. on tuesday she said he was warm,en gauging, personable. on wednesday she said he was with draurngs clearly troubled. no reason why, she says the change in demeanor. wolf? >> thank you. joe johns reporting. the pentagon say it's now launching an investigation into security in stations worldwide. he had a valid pass to get into building 197 where he opened fire. the shooting, though, is renewing questions about why the u.s. military hires so many outside contractors and whether those contractors are being vetted well enough to get top security clearances. we have been looking into this part of the story, what are you learning, drew? >> he never had security clearance when he was in the navy. and even though he was discharged from the military and had a list of questionable incidents, he was able to obtain that secret or mid-level entrance as a contractor.
how did that happen? that's really the big question, because everyone we've talked to today said it should not have had. he had a keck card, his company was called the experts. this summer after being recleared again, according to his employer, he began working at a string of military installations up and down the eastern seaboard, six of them, before timely beginning a project at the u.s. navy yard. that, we believe, just starting last week. >> you know, drew, i guess the question is, when you say that the question is how did he get these security clearances, is that because he had so many run ins earlier with the law? or the misconduct that he was accused of doing while he was in the u.s. navy reserves? >> yes. and even more importantly, the latter. he had that poor record with the navy. he's in the navy just three and
a half years, wracks up eight disciplinary issues ranging to disorderly conduct. that is a huge red flag. add to that a shooting incident in seattle in 2004. he's jailed in georgia for an outburst at a nightclub. that happened in 2008. firing into the ceiling of an apartment in texas in 2010. all of that information easily found by anyone just doing a limited search of this guy's background. >> so what's the explanation? >> there isn't one. and that's what's so frustrating about covering this story. the ceo of this company tell please last night they followed all the rules. there were no problems with this guy. he worked fine all summer long. today that company issued a reless saying this, we enlisted a service to perform two background checks, and we confirmed twice through the department of defense his secret government clearance.
the latest background check and security clearance confirmation were in late june of 2013. and listen to this, revealed no issues other than one minor traffic violation. quite frankly, that is hard to believe, a 12 year old doing a research project on this guy could have found much more than a traffic violation. we've been trying to call back and get specifics from this company. we haven't been able to get any answers back yet today. >> thanks. now a special gist, the rear admiral john kirby. was there a major blunder here? what happened? >> we're taking a look at that right now. we're looking at his entire service record no the navy. see what red flags if anywhere missed and if there's an accounting to be done to do that. >> have you come up with some initial explanations, how this guy could get this kind of security clearance?
>> he got a security clearance when he enlisted in the navy. shortly after that in 2007. it was good for ten years. and it was at the secret level. so it was valid when he left the navy in 2011. and because he wasn't out of work very long before this next job the security clearance went with him. we're taking a look at all the run ins with the law to see if anything should have been differently. >> but an outside contractor, woulding for the navy, let's say, gets security clearances through other outside contractors who outsource the initial security clearance process? >> there are plenty of security clearance companies that do help us with vetting these people. >> is that appropriate? >> it's a common practice, but i will tell you that the government maintains the final approval authority on security clearances. >> but an outside contractor, the initial phase says it's okay. it almost always go os through this process. >> this was done while he was in
active duty in the navy. we're not talking about one granted to him as a contractor. that was granted to him while he was in the navy. >> so he kept that while in the navy despite eight incidents in the navy? >> he wasn't a stellar sailor. he had eight incidents. >> tell us about them. >> subordination, dereliction of duty, failing to show up for work repeatedly on schedule on time. >> that sounds pretty serious to me. >> they're not, they're not grievously serious. i mean, they are offenses for which somebody can be taken to non-judicial punishment which is not a court-martial. it's more of an administrative hearing. and the punishments are farrell mild for those offenses. now he did have quite a few. >> i can understand one or two and you move on. but eight times he was disciplined. and eight times he was allowed to stay in the navy? >> he was. but there was a process that was
being proposed to administratively separate him from the navy. that process did not go to completion. >> why? >> we're trying to work that out. >> you should have, obviously. >> there was a proposal that perhaps he should have been administratively discharged with something less than a dison rabl discharge. >> was that like a plea bargain in effect? you can leave early, you can get a discharge. if you stay in. >> even the recommendation for a general could have been and might have been overturned. again, we're trying to work our way through all this. clearly this was not a sailor that had a stellar rohr. we understand that. but he did get out of the navy with a the honorable discharge. >> when i spoke to senator richard blumenthal, he was deeply concerned that because he had that honorable discharge from the navy, that opened up the door to him to get this job as an outside defense contractor, if you will, you
have an honorable discharge. you served in the naval reserves. you get a job with this company and obviously we know what happened yesterday. >> we understand the senator's concerns. we certainly share those. but i'll say looking at the offenses while he was in the navy, the offenses while he was in uniform, none of those give you an indication that he was capable of this sort of brutal, vicious violence. did he make a stellar sailor? no. we're looking at the processes by which he was separated. but nothing gave us an indication that he was capable of this. >> nobody had any ink ling of the hatred or any of these things. >> no. >> stay with us. john kirby, we're going to continue the questioning. our special coverage of the navy yard shooting resumes right after this. also, the 12 victims who didn't make it out of the navy yard alive. family members, they are speaking to us. they are telling us about their loved ones, what made them all so special. ♪
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let's continue the conversation now with the chief spokesman for the united states navy, john kirby. what do you know about his mental health while he served in the u.s. navy? >> again, we don't have any indications now that there were mental issues while he was on active duty. we have indications that he sought some mental care when he left, from the va. >> seeking some kind of skiek yeah trick help? >> yes. we have in discussions with the va, we have not been able to confirm those press reports. we want our people to seek help if they need it. that he went to seek mental health care is something that should be commended. >> it was good that he did it, the fact that he did it -- i'm not familiar with the process. he goes to a va hospital twice. he says he has some mental
health issues. that wouldn't necessarily affect getting his security clearances updated? >> no. as a matter of fact we don't want that to be the case. you've heard military officers to say we want them to come forward if they think they have a problem and not have to fear the stigma on their career or security clearance. >> what about the allegations he shot into somebody's tires, shot into a neighbor's apartment, all these incidents that we now know about. >> there are many reasons why a security clearance can be reviewed and revoked. certainly violent behavior is one of those things. we're doing the forensics to see if there are things we missed. and if there's an accounting to be had for that. and we'll certainly come forward. >> just to be precise. when he enlisted in the navy reserves, he did get secret security clearances? >> he was granted a security clearance shortly after his enlistment in 2007.
>> the navy gave him that. >> that's correct. >> he went through a background check. it wasn't an outside contractor. it was, the navy gave him, the secret cleaners, and he retained that throughout his active duty. >> it was good for ten years. and so he left in 2011, which meant it still had several year the left on it. >> don't they have to renew it every six months or year or so? they review those? >> there are periodic reviews, but the clearance stays good for ten years, now when you life the navy. >> as he did. >> if you're out of employment for, don't need a clearance for more than two years, then the clearance no longer is valid, and you have to go through the whole process over again. he was not out of work for that long. and i don't know exactly when he started with this company, the experts, but it was inside that two-year window, so his clearance stayed valid. >> when he gets this outside clearance through this outside contractor, when he goes to work for this consulting firm, the experts or whatever, do they
then go to the navy, this outsourced contractor who does security clearances? and reviews his record no the navy? >> i can't speak for the company that he hired, but i think there's a little bit of a misunderstanding. the clearance stayed valid. so when he came to work for the experts, it came with him. there wasn't another background investigation done for a new security clearance. we're talk being about t-- talk about the sa ing about the same one he had in the navy. >> a quick look assessment for security procedures. at our bases across the country, secretary hagel expanded that worldwide for security, both physical and personnel security. in other words, i think this is to look at the process worldwide. >> so you're doing an after-action review to make sure this never, ever happens again.
>> we absolutely are taking a look at it. we're doing the forensics inside the navy and in particular on this individual. >> good luck with this review. thanks very much rear admiral john kirby. when we come back, we'll remember the 12 victims, the people who died at the washington navy yard yesterday. yeah, we can make room. yeah. [ male announcer ] ...office space. yes, we're loving this communal seating. it's great. [ male announcer ] the best thing to share? a data plan. at&t mobile share for business. one bucket of data for everyone on the plan, unlimited talk and text on smart phones. now, everyone's in the spirit of sharing. hey, can i borrow your boat this weekend? no. [ male announcer ] share more. save more. at&t mobile share for business. ♪ at&does your dog food have?ess. 18 percent? 20? new purina one true instinct has 30. active dogs crave nutrient-dense food.
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names. we know some of their stories as well. we've been listening to family members, what are you hearing? >> reporter: many of the victims' families have just been notified within the last 24 hours or so. so most of them don't want to talk to us in person yet, as you can skuunderstand, but many hav sent us written statements and photos to help us remember their loved ones. >> it's not possible. not possible that they shot him, just for no reason. >> reporter: a dozen families are mourning today after losing their loved ones in the navy yard. >> he loved his country, he loved the navy. he was just a happy person. >> reporter: all 12 were civilians, working at what should be one of the safest places in washington. the youngest 46, the oldest, 73.
>> we all are civil servants. >> reporter: moist of the victims' family members are still too distraught to talk. but some passed along photos and shared memories. this woman was a wife for 43 years. the martin bodrog graduated from the naval academy and spent 22 years as an officer, he was often wearing a boston bruins uniform and walking his dog. mary knight taught classes at a community college in addition to her job at the navy yard. she celebrated her daughter's wedding just three months ago.
and this man was called a kind and gentleman. this photo was posted. six others lost their lives including john roger johnson, gerald read, sylvia frasier, frank coaler, arthur daniels and richard michael ridgell. now almost all of these victims were middle-aged adults, and many of them have young adult children and teenage children, and we should be thinking of them. >> our deepest, deepest condolences to all these families. our heart goes out to all of them. thanks very much for that report. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. crossfire starts right now. tonight, aaron alexis had a pattern of misconduct, an arrest record and a gun.
should the law that let him buy it be changed? tonight's guests, collin goddard, and larry pratt who heads gun owners of america. what can government do to prevent mass shootings? can it do anything? tonight on crossfire. >> welcome to crossfire. i'm newt gingrich on the right. >> and i'm stephanie cutter on the left. today we are struggling to make sense of yet another mass shooting. a gunman killed 12 people and wounded eight others. something that really summed it up for me was this plea from the doctor at one of the hospitals that treated some of the victims. >> there's something wrong here when we have these multiple shootings, these multiple injuries. there's something wrong. and the only thing i can say is we have to work together to get
rid of it. >> newt, i obviously agree with what the doctor said. we have to do something to get rid of these shootings. here's a real system failure. here's a guy that shot out tires of his neighbor, shot a gun into the ceiling of his other neighbor. the navy took steps to discharge him for misconduct, and yet the government gave him a security clearance. now that's clearly a system failure. he shouldn't have gotten a security clearance. he shouldn't have gotten a gun. however, what happened yesterday was tragic, absolutely tragic, but gun violence is happening every day in this country. mass shootings are 1% of all gun murders in this country. we have to do something to prevent on a large scale what's happening each and every day. we have to do more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those that want to pose danger to themselves and to others. that's what i say to you. we have to come together to find a solution